Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii --
As the chaos of noncombatant evacuation operation training surrounded them, Marines with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment worked together to subdue the crowd of role-players simulating wounded, scared civilians at MCTAB military operations on urban terrain town, May 16.
Staff Sgt. Brian Armbruster, the platoon sergeant for second platoon, Fox Co., 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines, said the purpose of the NEO training exercise was to support Combat Logistics Battalion 3’s mission.
“We were there to conduct evacuations and provide security during civil unrest,” said Armbruster, a native of Bailey, Colo. “My platoon’s main effort was surrounding an area outside the embassy of the MOUT town, suppressing protestors and enemy combatants.”
To help make the situation as realistic as possible, makeup artists applied fake blood and fashioned simulated wounds to some of the role-players. There were chest wounds, extremity wounds and amputee wounds.
Armbruster said the role players were given scenarios to add to the training exercise.
“The role players were asking the Marines for food, or mobbing us to add to the confusion,” Armbruster said. “The added confusion simulates real-life situations. This helps the Marines deal with escalation of force.”
Armbruster said the training the Marines conducted is versatile.
“This type of training is applicable to any location,” Armbruster said. “There are examples of civil unrest in places like Egypt and Syria, and we would go in, secure the area and process people.”
The role-players screamed and bombarded the Marines, asking for help and shelter as the sounds of combat blasted from the loud speakers, and mock improvised explosive devices detonated, sending a billow of white smoke into the air.
Lance Cpl. Brian Tebo, third squad leader for second platoon, Fox Co., 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines, said it was his first time conducting this type of training.
“We learned to deal with civilians and threats at the same time,” Tebo said, a native of Irvine, Calif. “The training was beneficial because it was a different scenario than what we usually do during training exercises, which makes us more adaptable.”
Lance Cpl. Joshua Dotson, a rifleman with second platoon, Fox Co., 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines, said the role-players played their roles well.
“They seemed scared as they scrambled during the mock IED explosions,” Dotson said, a native of Manchester, Md. “They came up to us asking for help and grabbing onto us. I focused on my squad’s movement, which was to get to the embassy. Our lieutenant stepped aside to diffuse the situation with the civilians, and that helped us to stay focused. I better understood the importance of communication between squads, since anything can change.”
Armbruster said conducting NEO training helps prepare them for the future.
“If anything, it helps put us into the proper mindset,” Armbruster said. “Six months from now, this could be real, and the realism facilitates us to train harder and better. We can therefore respond to anything.”